SmileDirectClub and Byte have a lot in common. Both clear aligner services offer at-home teeth straightening, and both are significantly more affordable than braces or Invisalign. But when you dig deeper, there are actually some major differences between these companies’ services.
We’re here to help you decipher these differences and determine the features you find most important. In this comparison review, we’ll take you on an in-depth tour of SmileDirectClub and Byte, providing all the information you need to choose the best home teeth aligner for you.
Table of Contents
Overview & Recommendation: Byte Wins
Two Great Companies, but Byte Gets Our Vote.
Both SmileDirectClub & Byte offer huge savings and convenience, but in our opinion, Byte wins the race. Why? Two reasons:
- The HyperByte Device: Byte’s high-frequency vibration device, the “HyperByte”, helps provide a more comfortable aligner fit and even encourages faster dental shifts. Byte includes the HyperByte in the cost of every treatment plan.
- Exceptional Customer Support: Byte assigns each customer a personal advisor, who checks in to answer questions and concerns throughout the treatment process, and their My Byte app gives you a quick, easy way to access customer support. Plus, once you’re done with treatment, their Byte-for-Life guarantee protects your smile forever.
Is Byte Right for You?
Your perfect match for orthodontic treatment will depend largely on your priorities, budget, and dental condition.
That said, Byte is an affordable, high-quality treatment option for most people with mild-to-moderate misalignments. They scored 4.3/5 overall based on our five review criteria (effectiveness, affordability, convenience, appearance, and customer support) — a higher rating than any other provider.
Provided you are a good candidate for at-home aligners, Byte and SmileDirectClub both have excellent track records for effectiveness. They can’t correct the same scope of conditions that Invisalign can, but both can reliably treat most mild and moderate misalignments.
- Cuts aligners straight across the top for extra power.
- Aligners use plastic from Dentsply Sirona.
- Recommends photo check-ins every month, but doesn’t require them.
- Once partnered with Align Technology to manufacture aligners, but now produces their aligners in-house.
- Aligners slightly overlap the gums.
- Requires virtual check-ins every 90 days throughout treatment.
SmileDirectClub once partnered with Align Tech (the creators of Invisalign) to manufacture their clear aligners. We were huge fans of this partnership, as Align Tech has long been known for producing top-quality, highly-effective aligners. These days, however, SmileDirectClub produces most of its aligners in-house. They’ve implemented a design they call “Comfort Sense,” which is a “proprietary soft, medium, and firm aligner plastic progression to ease teeth more comfortably into place.”
In late 2020, Byte was acquired by Dentsply Sirona, a reputable dental manufacturing company that makes cleaning instruments, scanning machines, retainers, and virtually any other dental equipment you can imagine. So you can be sure that Byte’s products are trustworthy and well-designed.
SmileDirectClub has been in the home aligner game longer, there’s no doubt about that. But over the past few years, they haven’t introduced any game-changing technology or modifications. They do, however, have an app where you can get notifications on when to switch aligner sets, upload photos of your smile, contact customer support, and more.
Byte has shown impressive ambition by developing and implementing technologies that drastically impact their treatment’s effectiveness. The aforementioned HyperByte is unique to Byte treatment, and it can help provide a more comfortable and more effective aligner fit. Plus, unlike other companies, Byte uses special software called Smile Science to evaluate your entire facial structure when designing your treatment plan. This allows their dentists and orthodontists to craft a smile that fits your features perfectly. They also have an app called My Byte, that offers the same features as SmileDirectClub’s, plus an option to track your HyperByte use.
Byte and SmileDirectClub both produce aligners that overlap your gums, which can help them exert more force on your teeth. These overlapping aligners use your gums as a point of leverage to pivot and push the teeth into alignment, which makes Byte and SmileDirectClub’s aligners more effective than scalloped ones that match the gum line.
In-person clear aligner treatments like Invisalign typically involve office visits every 4–6 weeks, and certain at-home aligner services have attempted to replicate this oversight with remote monitoring. SmileDirectClub, for example, has every customer upload photos of their teeth every 90 days, so their dental team can make sure things are progressing as planned. It’s not as robust as hands-on treatment, but it provides some peace of mind.
Byte recommends that you submit photos once per month, but they only require it in certain cases. If you choose to submit them regularly, you can upload them directly through the My Byte app, which is easier than an email back-and-forth.
One of the first things many adults check when considering home aligner treatment is their budget. Since both Byte and SmileDirectClub are often thousands cheaper than Invisalign and other in-office treatments, they’re popular choices for budget-conscious adults. Among at-home aligners, both services are fairly average, but Byte’s lower sticker price and free retainers make them a slightly more affordable option.
- $1,999 sticker price (or $2,399 for Byte-At-Night).
- Includes one set of aftercare retainers in the initial cost.
- The impression kit is $95.
- Financing requires a down payment, but they approve everyone.
- $2,050 sticker price.
- Charges $99 for retainers after treatment.
- Impression kit is $59 (or free at a SmileShop location).
- Financing requires a down payment, but they approve everyone.
At $2,050, SmileDirectClub’s sticker price is a bit more expensive than Byte’s $1,999 price point. However, there’s also a difference in their impression kit and retainer costs. SmileDirectClub’s impression kit is $59, whereas Byte’s is $95, and neither is included in the sticker price.
SmileDirectClub, however, gives you the option to skip the impression kit by getting a teeth scan at one of their 300+ SmileShops or 1,500+ partnering dental offices. Byte does not have any physical locations, but they include one set of aftercare retainers in their upfront cost. SmileDirectClub charges an additional $99 for retainers at the end of treatment. Even after this give-and-take, both companies’ total costs come out almost equal, yet Byte is slightly cheaper.
But not if you choose Byte At-Night. Byte’s nighttime-only option uses premium materials and a special design, so you’ll end up paying $2,399 instead. SmileDirectClub’s nighttime aligners cost the same amount as its standard daytime treatment.
Either company will provide high-quality aligners for much less than traditional in-office options, which often go for hundreds or thousands more.
Payment Plan Options
As you think about cost, you should also keep in mind how you might finance your treatment. Again, SmileDirectClub and Byte both offer financing options. Here are the details:
- SmileDirectClub offers a 26-month financing plan ($89/month) that requires a $250 down payment. No credit check required.
- Byte’s 36-month plan ($70/month) requires a $249 down payment. For Byte At-Night, it’s $84 a month + a $299 down payment. Soft credit check required.
With both services, you’ll pay a bit extra to finance your care when you factor in the interest paid over time by financing, so it’s worth it to pay upfront if you can make the finances work!
After any orthodontic treatment, you’ll need to wear retainers for the rest of your life to keep your teeth from shifting back — first all day long, then just overnight. Both companies make clear retainers you’ll need to replace around twice per year. As we mentioned, Byte includes one set for free, but charges $129 for every replacement, while SmileDirectClub charges $99.
However, the Byte Protection Plan provides five years’ worth of retainers for $749. Instead of placing individual orders twice per year, Byte will ship your replacements automatically. You’ll get ten sets in total, so you’ll pay around $75 per set instead of $129.
Both companies include free whitening to accompany your aligners, which is a nice touch that allows you to brighten your smile while you straighten your teeth. However, Byte also includes their HyperByte device in the cost of your aligner bundle. This is a huge benefit to you, as the HyperByte retails for $699 on its own.
All things considered, both companies offer strong value, especially when compared to Invisalign or braces, which will typically set you back $5,000 or more.
As treatments that you can complete entirely from home, both Byte and SmileDirectClub are significantly more convenient than traditional in-person options, which require regular office visits and usually take 12-18 months. With SmileDirectClub’s streamlined startup procedures, Byte’s efficient treatment times, and both companies’ nighttime-only plans, these two even top their at-home competitors in convenience.
- No physical locations that offer teeth scans, so you’ll need to use an impression kit.
- The average treatment plan length is 4–5 months.
- Offers a nighttime-only option that requires aligner use for only ten hours per day.
- Allows you to use aligners and whitening products simultaneously.
- Has 300+ SmileShops for free teeth scans as an alternative to impression kits. Also has 1,500+ dentist partners nationwide.
- The average treatment plan is 4–6 months.
- Offers a nighttime-only option that only requires aligner wear for ten hours per day.
- Also allows simultaneous aligner and whitening use.
When getting started with SmileDirectClub or Byte, you’ll need to send the company images of your teeth. You can purchase an impression kit from either company and use it to create molds of your top and bottom dental arches. However, impression kits can be difficult, especially considering the fact that most customers have never taken molds of their own teeth. And if you choose Byte, this is the only option, so you’re stuck taking your own impressions.
Go with SmileDirectClub, and you can visit any of their 300+ SmileShops for a free teeth scan. If you’d rather not deal with the hassle of taking impressions, or if you’re eager to start treatment, you can pop into a SmileShop where a dental assistant will scan your teeth for free. This will allow the company to get started on your care plan as quickly as possible.
Plus, the SmileDirectClub Partner Network includes more than 1,500 dental offices nationwide, where you can begin your treatment with an in-office consultation and teeth scan if you’d prefer. These dentists won’t be involved throughout your treatment, though. They just take your teeth scans.
Note: If you get started at a SmileShop, you may have the option to sign up for a “Fast Track” service, which gets your aligners to your door as fast as possible. However, it also means you need to pay the full treatment cost upfront. And according to some customer reviews, after agreeing to fast-track their aligner production, they weren’t able to see their full treatment plan before receiving their aligners, so make sure you consider it carefully before signing up.
One of the biggest advantages at-home aligner treatments have over in-office options is their speed. Byte and SmileDirectClub don’t take nearly as long as braces or Invisalign (which can take 12–24 months or more). Byte claims an average treatment plan length of just 4–5 months, and SmileDirectClub isn’t far behind at 4–6 months.
Both Byte and SmileDirectClub include teeth whitening products with your aligners, so you can brighten that smile while you straighten your teeth. With some other options, you can only whiten after you complete your aligner treatment, making Byte and SmileDirectClub more convenient options.
This is a relatively new trend in the home aligner industry. Typically, you would wear your aligners for 22 hours per day. But for anyone who doesn’t think they can stick to that schedule, or would rather not remove and replace their aligners to eat and drink, SmileDirectClub and Byte have each introduced a nighttime-only option.
SmileDirectClub’s Nighttime Clear Aligners are exactly the same as the ones you would receive for an all-day schedule, but you only wear each set for ten hours per day over two weeks instead of one. Of course, this stretches out the overall timeline — extending it to ten months on average. Byte designs their At-Night aligners specifically for ten-hour-per-day wear using premium plastics, and their average nighttime aligner plan is around 5–6 months. A nighttime-only plan is a more convenient option for either company, although Byte maintains its slight advantage in speed.
Both Byte and SmileDirectClub provide clear aligners that fit the contours of your teeth and are much less visible than traditional braces, but there are some small differences in the materials they use that impact each product’s appearance.
- Uses a smooth, translucent, shiny plastic.
- Aligners overlap the gums.
- Reasonably stain-resistant.
- Doesn’t incorporate attachments.
- Uses a frosted, textured plastic.
- Aligners overlap the gums.
- Reasonably stain-resistant.
- Doesn’t incorporate attachments.
SmileDirectClub fashions their aligners from a “frosted” plastic, while Byte uses a smooth, shiny one. What’s the difference? If you want to know our opinion, it’s that aligners made from frosted plastic are actually more discreet because they mimic the naturally matte surface of your teeth. Shiny material can be reflective and potentially more noticeable.
However, this debate is largely subjective and depends on your personal preference. Some customers, for example, prefer Byte’s shiny plastic because they think it makes their smiles gleam. You should consider which you’d like better before making your final decision.
As we mentioned in the Effectiveness section, both Byte and SmileDirectClub’s aligners slightly overlap the gums, which makes them more powerful. These aren’t quite as discreet as aligners that are trimmed to match your gum line, however, since people nearby might notice the overlap.
Invisalign, ClearCorrect, and other in-office clear aligners can incorporate elastics, buttons, or engagers that your dentist can affix to your teeth, enabling more complex dental shifts. These attachments increase the aligners’ effectiveness, but also make them more visible.
Byte and SmileDirectClub can’t offer any attachments, since a dentist needs to apply them in person, but that helps their aligners keep a low profile.
Both companies make aligners that are resistant to staining, but we would not recommend drinking colored beverages while wearing them.
Customer Experience Comparison
You want a home aligner company that makes you feel valued and provides quick support when you need it most. When it comes to customer service, Byte provides slightly more personalized care.
Both companies offer comparable support options, and in examining numerous customer reviews, we found that both companies offer reassuring lifetime warranties, but Byte stands out in terms of responsiveness and overall helpfulness. While they can’t match the personalization of in-person support from a dentist’s office, they’ve taken measures to make their remote support highly satisfying.
Byte Customer Experience
SmileDirectClub Customer Experience
- Offers standard communication avenues and will respond on social media as well
- Provides each customer with a personal Byte advisor to answer questions
- Receives consistently positive customer reviews
- The Byte for Life Guarantee ensures your smile forever
- Offers numerous communication avenues.
- Received some negative reviews in the past, but seems to be turning it around.
- Will work to modify your plan if you’re not satisfied, plus offers a full refund within 30 days of starting treatment and prorated refunds after that.
- Their Lifetime Smile Guarantee also ensures your smile forever.
Both companies are available during standard business hours on a variety of support platforms — phone, webchat, text, and email. They’re both very active on social media and will respond to questions and concerns there as well.
SmileDirectClub allows you to track your progress on a mobile app and have regular virtual “Smile Check-ins” with their dental team. According to the SmileDirectClub website, this dental team is available via chat and text for questions 24/7.
Byte also lets you contact their customer support team directly through the My Byte app, which is a quick and easy way to get in touch.
Responsiveness & Helpfulness
Based on many reviews we found, customers generally feel that Byte offers more responsive and thoughtful support than SmileDirectClub.
In fact, SmileDirectClub’s customer support has received mixed reviews over the years. Many SmileDirectClub customers have expressed dissatisfaction with the level of support they received or reported frustrating delays in aligner shipments. The volume of negative reviews and Better Business Bureau complaints accelerated around 2017 as SmileDirectClub attempted to grow its business extremely rapidly, creating inconsistencies in its customer support.
Since then, SmileDirectClub has improved its service quality and customer support—especially with the implementation of their Smile Check-ins and mobile app. But Byte still comes out on top. By all accounts, they’re fairly responsive on all channels.
For example, if you reach out on social media, you can expect a response within 24 hours. Even better is the fact that Byte assigns each customer their own personal advisor, who answers questions and checks in via email throughout the process. It’s like having your personal guide for the teeth straightening journey.
These companies have fairly similar satisfaction guarantees. Either one will work with you to modify your treatment if your teeth aren’t moving as expected, creating new aligners to get you back on track (provided you’ve followed their treatment protocol).
On top of that, both companies have policies that ensure you keep your new smile for life. Byte’s is called the Byte for Life guarantee, and SmileDirectClub calls theirs the Lifetime Smile Guarantee. They might have different names, but they operate the same way.
Imagine that your teeth shift five years after you complete treatment. Byte or SmileDirectClub will send you new aligners to shift them back. Ten years? New aligners. Twenty years? You guessed it — they’ll send you new aligners. However, to qualify, you must order two sets of retainers per year and wear them as prescribed.
Additionally, SmileDirectClub offers a 30-day full refund window from the start of treatment. After that, you can return your unused, unopened aligners for a prorated refund, based on how many aligners you send back.
Byte Company Background
SmileDirectClub Company Background
- Founded in 2018.
- Quickly gained popularity due to their innovative technology and excellent customer service.
- Currently one of the industry’s largest and most popular companies.
- Founded in 2014.
- Largest home aligner company in the industry.
- Has transformed over one million smiles to date.
After they started in 2018, Byte quickly grew into one of the largest and most established companies in the industry, and they’ve risen to the top of our rankings because of their innovation and efficiency.
At first, we were unsure if Byte could compete with an established industry giant like SmileDirectClub, which then had over 2,000 employees and had served over one hundred thousand customers (as of 2022, the numbers are even higher). But Byte jumped at an opportunity to become a formidable company themselves.
In many ways, SmileDirectClub appears to have grown too quickly, and the quality of their product and customer support has suffered as a result. This unfortunate decision led to many customer complaints and created an opening for Byte to enter the arena promoting efficient treatment times, unique technology, and exceptional customer support.
And customers quickly took notice. Since their start in 2018, Byte has delivered on their claims for quality products and exemplary customer service. They continuously stay at the forefront of industry trends and technology, innovating new ways to increase their aligner effectiveness, convenience, and appearance.
SmileDirectClub is still a highly convenient option, and they’re working to make the startup process even more accessible by opening additional SmileShops across the country. But all things considered, Byte is our overall top-ranked home aligner company and a fantastic all-around option for anyone seeking high-quality, fast, affordable treatment.
What Are Customers Saying?
When we review a company like Byte or SmileDirectClub, we start by digging through online user reviews to understand the common issues customers face, and how the company handles them. Here’s how these two services stack up.
Generally, Byte users express positivity and satisfaction with their experience.
They often say they chose Byte because they appreciated the convenience of an efficient treatment plan, and liked that the HyperByte device would help eliminate some of the discomfort associated with orthodontic treatment.
Some customers, however, have noted that Byte’s aligners didn’t straighten their teeth as much as they’d expected, and they had to seek refinements, extending their treatment time. Others were pleased with their results, but frustrated by going back and forth with customer support. These cases seem to be the exception rather than the rule, but they’re definitely something to consider as you research various aligners.
In the cases where something goes wrong, it seems like Byte worked to resolve the issue. So you can be confident that if you experience any issues during treatment, their support team will have your back.
Given SmileDirectClub’s multi-year history, there are many genuine online reviews detailing customer experiences with the product. Generally, SmileDirectClub customers feel positive about their experiences, despite some hiccups along the way. Customer support seems to be hit-or-miss, but the company seems to keep its promises. Although, it may take some extra effort on the customer’s end.
Each set of aligners seems well-made (most people don’t need to file down any rough edges or irregularities, unlike some other brands), and the treatment process is reportedly only mildly uncomfortable. Most customers report increased discomfort for the first day or two of each aligner set, especially when removing them after a long time. This pain subsides quickly and, for most customers, is not a major concern. A majority complete their treatment and feel satisfied with the results.
In addition to the unbiased SmileDirect reviews we’ve collected from our readers, we encourage you to check out the video reviews below for a look at what real customers have to say.
Which Home Teeth Aligner Should You Use?
As you can see, SmileDirectClub and Byte have a lot in common, but their differences are where you want to focus when making a final decision. If you’re still not sure which clear aligner service to choose, let’s look at a couple scenarios that might help you figure out which is the better option for you.
Choose Byte if You Are:
Looking to complete your treatment ASAP with excellent customer service, and don’t mind working with a slightly younger company.
Choose SmileDirectClub if You Are:
More comfortable purchasing from the most well-established brand name with top-notch convenience. Bonus points if you live near a SmileShop location.
We Recommend Byte For Most Users
SmileDirectClub and Byte both offer a convenient and affordable alternative to visiting your dental provider for Invisalign treatment. Still, we recommend Byte because of their shorter average treatment times and better customer support.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I choose SmileDirectClub or Byte?
Either one is a good choice, but Byte is our favorite home aligner service. It’s tough to beat their fast average treatment times, cutting-edge technology, and exceptional customer service. SmileDirectClub has its own advantages, primarily their brand power and long track record of satisfied customers. Take a deep dive into either company by reading our full SmileDirectClub review and Byte review.
How do I get started with SmileDirectClub or Byte?
You can kick off your Byte treatment by purchasing and completing an impression kit. This means using putty to make molds of your top and bottom dental arches. Starting with SmileDirectClub is easier. They offer an impression kit, but they also have 300+ SmileShop locations where you can get a free in-person teeth scan, and a network of more than 1,500 partnering dentists who can get you started in the office.
What are customers saying about Byte and SmileDirectClub?
Byte customers rave about everything from support to aligner comfort, but we also found a few instances where customers were disappointed with their final results. Most SmileDirectClub customers are satisfied with their experience, although some report frustration with slow communication and customer support.
Should I choose nighttime or daytime treatment?
SmileDirectClub and Byte both offer a nighttime-only treatment that allows you to wear your aligners for ten hours per night rather than 22 hours per day. Nighttime treatment is great for frequent snackers or people who forget to wear aligners consistently. Daytime treatment is a better option for someone who’s looking to complete their treatment as quickly as possible.
What is the cheapest home aligner company?
AlignerCo. At just $1,145, their price beats every competitor by a few hundred dollars, and sometimes they run promotions that drop it even lower. And if you can’t pay that up front, you can jump on a financing plan, regardless of your credit score. Check out our complete AlignerCo review for more info, or find other great-value options in our guide to the most affordable home aligners.
Will home aligners work for me?
It depends on your condition. Since home aligners don’t require office visits and in-person oversight, they can’t treat severe conditions like most jaw misalignments. If you have a mild or moderate case of crowding or spacing, you’re probably a good fit, though.
How do SmileDirectClub and Byte compare to Invisalign?
Both treatments use a series of clear aligners to shift your teeth. The major difference is that your dentist or orthodontist will administer Invisalign in-office and can incorporate supplement attachments (elastics, buttons, etc.).
As a result, Invisalign can treat just about any condition that braces can. Home aligners don’t require office visits, so they can’t employ attachments and they have a smaller range of treatable cases. Take a look at our SmileDirectClub vs. Invisalign and Byte vs. Invisalign guides for a deeper analysis.
How long does home aligner treatment take?
In most cases, six months. Your timeline could be shorter or longer, though, depending on your condition’s severity and how consistently you wear your aligners. And if you choose Byte, your treatment could move a bit faster — they report an average treatment plan length of 4–5 months.
How much do home aligners cost?
They go for $1,200–$2,500, depending on which company you choose. AlignerCo, for example, has cut out the bells and whistles to provide effective treatment at just $1,145, while other companies cost around $1,800–$1,900. Even the most expensive home aligners are still much cheaper than the $3,000–$8,000 you’ll pay for Invisalign or braces.
Does insurance cover home aligners?
Sometimes, but not often. Many insurance providers don’t cover cosmetic treatments, which includes home aligners. If your plan includes orthodontic benefits, though, you might receive a partial reimbursement. The only way to know for sure is to contact your provider directly.
Are home aligners safe?
Yes! While administering treatment from home might seem daunting, the process is very safe. Home aligner companies use state-licensed dentists and orthodontists to create your treatment plan and design your aligners. Even though you won’t meet with them in person, each company offers robust customer support services if something doesn’t feel quite right.
Do home aligners hurt?
When you switch to a new aligner set every two weeks, you might experience some discomfort for the first day or two, but after that, you’ll hardly notice them.